Legend of Grimrock 2 on PC (9/10)

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The second Legend of Grimrock takes the retro dungeon crawl mechanics that worked so well in the first game and expands them into an open world RPG experience. You are still confided to the grid, but now that grid is decorated with a variety of natural environments and dungeon types.

While much of the game remains the same, there is a greater emphasis on puzzles. I generally enjoyed the environmental challenges that relied on exploration and trial-and-error. There are, however, a number of riddle-based puzzles which I was not as keen on. Maybe I’m just a big dummy because found myself turning to the Internet to get past a few of these.

If you are not familiar with games like Dungeon Master, the combat can seem weird. You are constantly shuffling back-and-forth to avoid damage, but still clicking characters in a turn-based style to fire off attacks. Casting spells becomes a frantic race to draw symbols on the screen, move around, and maintain the health of your other characters. It’s weird, but I find it very satisfying and would highly recommend trying this series out.

Royal Couple - Wood Engraving

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This engraving started out as two engravings on a pair of maple wood scraps. I worked on these with the intention of combining them into a single image by pasting them to s single sheet of heavy-duty somerset printmaking paper. This allowed me to have the ease of printing the light rice paper, while having a sturdy end product. Also, because they came from the same tree branch, the shapes provided a nice visual symmetry,

Ion Fury: Aftershock on PC (8/10)

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Technically this is just an expansion pack for Ion Fury, but this is a full-game’s worth on content. The most notable additions are the new weapons, monster types, and a “rotorcycle” vehicle. The vehicle levels were the weakest part of the game for me. I’m just not a fan of the racing style combat. But everything else is pure 90s shooter fun that fits in nicely with this already excellent game.

Altered Beast on Genesis (6/10)

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On a quick nostalgia kick I went back and replayed this, the first Sega Genesis game I ever played. I think this was the pack-in game for the Genesis and it seems an odd choice. At the time it was technologically impressive but the game itself is not terribly exciting. It’s a side-scrolling fighting game in which the main challenge is figuring out the best attacks (kick or punch, that’s it) against the various enemies. The game really comes down to rote memorization.

The most exciting part is collecting the metamorphosis powerups that transform your character into a werewolf, dragon, werebear, or tigerman. Furries, rejoice! Once you transform you’ll become fairly invulnerable and you soon face a stage boss. Most of these bosses can be beaten with attacks that feel like cheap exploits. For example, move in close and spam the electric-shock button and the eyeball thing dies is seconds.

As flawed as the game is, I still enjoy playing it if only to experience the joy of kicking things while wearing jockey shorts.

How to Seduce a Virgin (6/10)

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Jess Franco was such a gifted director. Too bad he wasted much of his talents on softcore trash like this. There’s an interesting setup: a woman is released from a psych ward to her palatial estate with a basement full of paralyzed/zombified women. Her pervy husband and her initiate a quest to seduce an ambassador’s daughter. That’s the first ten minutes of the movie, the rest is devoted to sleazy, extended scenes of naked women writhing for whatever reasons. It’s all shot beautifully, unfortunately there is no substance.

Vincent’s Cat - Woodcut

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I’ve run out of engraving blocks, so the the last few prints of mine have been made using whatever scrap materials I have hanging around my studio. This is a small chiaroscuro woodcut made using two blocks. On block has the black lines and another has gray tones.

My ability to correctly register the blocks is limited. I had to throw away about a third of the prints because they were severely misaligned or other glitches. The final result is this small edition.

Cat prints seem to sell well, so here’s another cat print, but I couldn’t resist adding a little gore.

Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie (5/10)

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The story sets the puzzle up in an interesting way. Eight guests are invited to a dinner party. Four are slueth-y types the other four are thought by the host to have committed murders in the past. The host is killed and the mystery feels like a game in which all the clues are “on the table.” Went pretty well until the ending which just confused me. There was no “ah-ha” moment at the reveal. Not what you want in a murder mystery.